Aeschylus was born most probably in 525 B.C. and died either in 456 B.C. or 455 B.C. He was the first of the
three great Ancient tragic poets, raising the quality of the tragedies from a chorus performance to an
independent and well developed drama.
In 490 B.C., he took part in the Battle of Marathon and in 484 B.C. he was the first to win the first prized in the Dramatic
Competitions. Characteristic traits of Aeschylus were his supple, carefully worded and modern majestic language. Furthermore,
he was noted for his ability to create in his audience a sense of awe, emphasizing higher morals such humility and the insignificance
of man in the face of death and universal justice.
He was also an innovator in the field of theatrical arts since he added a second actor and decreased the chorus segment to
fortify the dialogue. He was also the first person to use theatrical scenery and improved the actor’s wardrobe.
Aristotle was born in 384 B.C. and was (along with Plato and Socrates) the greatest philosopher of Ancient times.
He, himself, was a student of Plato’s – from whom he learned about the philosophical thinking of Socrates, which
influenced his work.
Aristotle developed a philosophical method known as the Aristotelian Method. It consists of the means by which major life problems are
to be confronted – no matter whether they are personal, social or political in nature. He also guides us to the discovery of the real
truth and goodness that is connected to human actions. The latter being in direct opposition to Plato.
Aristotle served as a teacher to Alexander the Great through 339/335 B.C. and afterwards founded the School of Philosophy in Athens –
known as the Lyceum of Aristotle, which grew quickly in fame. He died of illness in 322 B.C. in Chalkida.
Demosthenes was born in 384 B.C. and died in 322 B.C. He was the most famous orator of Ancient times in addition
to being a popular political figure in Athens. He came from a very well off family, but the death of his father when
he was 7 years old gave his legal guardians to embezzle his wealth.
When Demosthenes came of age, he took legal measures against his guardians and succeeded in regaining a portion of his inheritance.
That is when he began his career as a speech-writer (logographer) and wrote speeches for use in private legal suits. In 354 B.C.
he made his entrance into the political arena with his speech, "On the Navy" ("?e?? t?? S?µµ?????"). Demosthenes dominated the
political life of Athens – attempting to resurrect the pre-Peloponnesian War standard of living. Then came his conflict with King
Philip II of Macedon and he wrote his most famous speeches – preserved with the names, "Philippic" and "Olynthiacs".
In 324 B.C. he was involved in a scandal regarding the removal of money that was brought to Athens by the former treasury guard of
Alexander the Great, Harpalus. Demosthenes was forced to escape to Troezen. In 323 B.C. he returned to Athens, but the Athenian defeat
in the Lamian War by the Macedonians led him to commit suicide in order to avoid arrest.
Demetrius of Phaleron was born in 350 B.C. and was a complex persona due to his achievements as a politician,
philosopher, orator and writer. He wrote many works with, poetical, grammatical, political, philosophical and
He belonged to the anti-Macedonian political party and in 317 B.C. – with the support of Cassader – he was elected as the head
of the administration of Athens. As such, he created great activity in the areas of economic development and legislature. In 309 B.C.
he was exiled from Athens by Demetrius Poliorcetes. He escaped to Egypt, where he died in 280 B.C. – either in prison or by suicide
when he came into conflict with Ptolemy Philadelphus.
Euripides was the youngest of the three great tragic poets of Ancient time who developed the dramatic arts
to its greatest possible level. He was born in 485 or 480 B.C. and was a recluse with a very closed personality.
A trait that managed to make him very unpopular and the center of comedy writers’ satires.
Although his poetic career spanned 50 years, Euripides only won the Dramatic Competitions 4 times – the first victory dated 441 B.C.
In his plays, we see the conflict of man with his own self and his problems in life. He rejected the idea of the moral superiority of
the Gods, while many times imprinting his personal beliefs and obbsessions in his works. He wrote approximately 92 dramas of which only
18 have been preserved to this day.
Herodotus was born around 480 B.C. and died close to 420 B.C. He is known as the Father of History
because he was the first to present a cohesive and unified historical description. He went on great journeys,
which then served as the basis for his work – taking the name "History of Herodotus" and was later divided into
9 books by Alexandrian librarians.
In his work, we see his attempt to analyze the causes of the historical facts and the motives objectively and impartially of the major
players, but it is not lacking in its overlying idea that there is an ethical law that governs the fate of man. Moreover, his work is
considered the most valid historical source regarding the Persian Wars as well as being an invaluable link to the evolution of historical research.
Isocrates was born in 436 B.C. and died in 338 B.C. He was one of the most significant rhetorician in
the Ancient period, writing both courtroom and political speeches as well as correspondence. Isocrates,
himself, rarely made speeches due to his weak voice and shy nature. His speeches were distributed in writing
and read all over Greece. In 390 B.C. he opened an rhetoric school in Athens,
which went on to gain great fame.
His main work, however, was his attempt to incite the Greeks to cease their civil conflicts and unite against the Persians in order
to avenge themselves of the rule of Xerxes. Isocrates considered the internal strife the source of all the problems in Greece and the
creation of an aggressive campaign against Persia as the only solutions.
Furthermore, Isocrates aided in the development of the Art of Rhetoric and the quality of the processing of orations, combining it with
internal unity in rhythm and language, musicality and harmonic composition.
CIMON Cimon was born in 506 B.C. and died in 499 B.C. during the Siege of Citium either by a wound or by some form of illness.
He was the son of Marathon warrior, Miltiades, and went through a difficult childhood due to his father’s conviction after the
failed Siege of Paros.
Having a very strong personality whose main trait was logic and a deep love of justice, Cimon quickly became very popular. After
having married, Isodice, member of the Alcmaeonidae family, he took over the leadership of the conservative party. He stood out
during the Sea Battle of Salamina and, as Commander-in-Chief of the Greek Army, after the removal of Pausanias, he led the fight
against the Persians.
He won continuously against the Persians with the most important victory being against the Persian Fleet on the coast of Eurymedon
river in Pamphylia. Having exhibited a fondness towards the Spartans, Cimon was accused of bribery by his opponents but was found
innocent. However, in 462/461 B.C., after the Athenian Army was distanced by the Spartans who came to help due to the revolt of the
helots (Messenians in Ithome), Cimon was ostracised.
In 453 B.C., the Athenians recalled him and, after he secured peace the Spartans, he organized a new campaign against the Persians –
during which he lost his life.
Cleisthenes was the founder of the democratic governance due to his implementation of reforms that served as the basis of the new system
of government, which signaled the beginning of the development of Athens. He came from the line of Alcmaeonid family and actively took
part in the complicated political conflicts that took place during the mid-6th Century.
During 508/507 B.C. – after Cleisthenes had won the trust of the people – he came into conflict with the archon eponymus,
Isagoras, who had the support of the Spartans. After a number of confrontations, Cleisthenes rose to power and carried out
the implementation of progressive socio-political reforms. Of the most important measures that he took were the strengthening
of the jurisdiction of the ecclesia (popular assembly), the new separation of Athenian citizens into 10 tribes (phyle) –
annulling the old social order of birth and sex, the increase of the number of the Boule to 500 (Council of Five Hundred)
and their separation into 10 prytanies (executives of the boule) who presided by succession for equal periods of time, the
decrease of the political power of the Areopagus, the shaping of the army corps in accordance to the phyle where each also
had their own assembly, authority and treasury.
Miltiades was most likely born in 554 B.C. and died in 489 B.C. He a member of a wealthy Athenian noble family,
the Philaids. Around 516 B.C. he took over the administration of the Athenian leadership at the Thracian Chersonese
that was founded by his uncle, whom he was named after.
There, he came into discord with the Persians and was reduced to a subordinate to the King of Persia, Darius.
During the Ionian Revolt
however, Miltiades helped the revolting Greek with great success. In 493 B.C. he was chosen as the general of
Athens (strategos) and in
490 B.C. he led the army of Athens to a significant victory against the Persians at the Plain of Marathon.
Afterwards, Miltiades completed a campaign against the islands that had supported the Persians, but was unsuccessful.
Sick from gang green, he was convicted and fined 50 talents and most probably died in jail.
Peisistratos was the tyrant of Athens from the years 546 B.C. to 527 B.C.
Taking advantage of the political and social imbalances that were apparent in Athens at
the time – in addition to his rise in popularity after the conflict with the Megarans –
he managed to reinstate tyranny in Athens.
However, the reactions of his various competitors forced him out of power, which he
regained for a short period of time in 558/557 B.C. In 546 B.C. – after Peisistratos
had organized a powerful mercenary army to support him – he attempted to overindulge
his rivals and permanently establish himself into power. His policy could best be described
as moderate, since he preserved the already existing laws of Solon, naturally holding onto
the right to have the final say in all political decisions. He also took different measures
for the improvement of agricultural production as well as the reduction of unemployment.
Furthermore, he reinforced the traditional holidays and funded an expensive construction program.
Pericles was born in 495 B.C. and died in 429 B.C. He played a leading role in the political
events of Athens as the leader of the Democratic political party. Together with Ephialtes, he
was the founder of the said, "radical democracy" – giving the citizens of Athens the ability to
direct entrance and participation in the political goings on of the city.
Through the Delian League, Pericles succeeded in making Athens the first power in the Mediterranean
while at the same time, he decorated the city with monuments of overwhelming beauty and elegance
(Amongst these works was, of course, the Parthenon). He also considered the conflict with Sparta
a natural outcome of the increased power of Athens. For this reason, Pericles drafted a strategic
plan of which modern day researchers have made numerous comments on.
The horrible plague that had infested Athens at the beginning of the Peloponnesian
War resulted in the deaths of nearly 20% of the population of Athens –
one of which included Pericles himself.
Phidias was the greatest sculptor in Ancient Greek art history.
Unfortunately, no accounts of his life were preserved – only that of his art.
That being the case, we can estimate the period of his creative peak as being
somewhere between 470 B.C. and 430 B.C.
His sculptures are considered to be the cornerstone of the height of Greek sculpture during the Classical
Era because of his innovative and incomparable technique. His most important works were: the colossal
Statue of Zeus at Olympia (one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World); the statue of Athena Promachus -
"Athena who fights in the front line" – on the Acropolis of Athens (which is considered the masterpiece of
Ancient Greek sculpture) and; the sculpted ornamentation of the Parthenon.
Plato was born in Athens or on the island of Aegina in 428/427 B.C. and died in 348/347 B.C.
He was one of the foremost public figures who personified the Ancient Greek spirit and directly
influenced the development of philosophy and human thought. Within his many works, the said,
"Plato's dialogues" attempted to give some answers to the various time-long philosophical problems
such as the definition of justice, what is reality, what is ethical, etc. Plato was directly
influenced by Socrates, of whom he was once a student of. Moreover, Plato’s compositions gave
us abundant information regarding the philosophical thinking of Socrates, since he himself
kept no written journals.
Plato is considered to be the founder of idealism and the creator of the theory of ideals –
claiming that the soul and ideals predominate death and the senses. Furthermore,
in his famous work, "Politeia" ("The Republic"), he tries to give the prototype for
the ideally favorable political community.
Socrates was born in 470/469 B.C. in Athens and died in 399 B.C.
His deep and questioning philosophical thinking proved him to be the
greatest philosophical mind in Athens and the Ancient Greek spirit.
He, himself, never wrote down any of his works during his life and whatever we know about him comes
from the writings of his students – mainly by Plato. For this reason, we do not have a full
and objective idea about his thinking. In his rich philosophical meditations those that stood
out were: his theory of ideals; the dialectical method of inquiry; the definition of virtue;
the determination of the prototype for the ideal state, and much more.
The death of Socrates was tragic. After he was brought to trial for corrupting the youth
and disbelieving in the ancestral gods. After a tumultuous causing courtroom drama,
he was sentenced to death. He, by himself, with characteristic calmness drank the
poison hemlock (Conium) – supporting, until the end, the way of life that he had suggested.
Solon was one of the seven sages of Ancient Greece and an eminent politician and lawmaker
of Ancient Athens. He was born in 640 B.C. and died in 560 B.C. His most important achievement
was his political and legislative reforms of 594/593 B.C.
The most significant of his reforms was "Seisachtheia" and the separation of citizens into four
political classes: a) Pentacosiomedimni; b) Hippeis; c) Zeugitai and; d) Thetes – depending upon
their economic power. This classification had an effect on the determination of political rights
as well. Furthermore, emergency taxes that were named "contributions" were also created. Private
and penal law were revised, putting more emphasis on the protection of a citizen’s honor.
In general, we could say that the laws of Solon attempted to bring about a compromise and peace
between the disputes of nobility with the farming population – without very satisfactory results.
His efforts did, however, result in a very serious step towards the establishment of democracy.
Sophocles was born in 497/496 B.C. and died in 406 B.C.
He was another one of the great tragic poets of Ancient times, having written approximately 127
tragedies – of which only 7 have been wholly preserved.
He introduced important innovations to tragedies such as the additional number of actors from
2 to 3, bringing more members into the chorus from 12 to 15, moving the interest onto the dialogue
and the introduction of skenographia, (scenery-painting).
He was an excellent master of language and very effective at preparing the audience to
accepting the tragic side of his hero. His plots were concluded very dramatically, but
at the same time, with impressive imagery. The works that have been saved are as follows:
"Ajax", "Antigone", "Electra", "The Trachiniae", "Philoctetes", "Oedipus the King" and "Oedipus at Colonus".
Themistocles was born in 525 B.C. and died in 460/459 B.C. He was one of the utmost political
and military figures of the Ancient Hellenic word. Already from 493/492 B.C. he was chosen as
archon eponymus and engaged as General at the Battle of Marathon.
After the death of Miltiades, he took over the role of leader and began implementing his grandiose
program for the creation of a powerful fleet to defend Athens from the upcoming Persian attack as
well as to develop the first naval force in the Eastern Mediterranean. In 480 B.C. during the attack
of the Xerxes on Greece, Themistocles exhibited superiority in the face of the threat of division of
the unity of the Greeks and conceded the command of the Greek Army and Fleet to Sparta. It was his
brainchild to have a naval battle take place against the Persians at the Strait of Salamina – where
Greek triremes proved themselves faster and more efficient that the Persian ships.
Following the war, Themistocles strengthened the defense of Athens by building fortified walls. His
political rivals, however, initially succeeded in his ostracism and later in convicting him to. After
many transfers, he ended up in the royal court of the Persian King, Artaxerxes and took over the governorship
of Magnesia and another four cities until the day he died.
Thucydides was the historian of the Peloponnesian War and the founder of scientific history.
He was most likely born in 460 B.C. and died sometime between 400 B.C. and 396 B.C.
His monumental work was the first of its kind and a point of reference for all historians
of following generations. The History of the Peloponnesian War is divided into 8 books that
cover the period 431 B.C. to 411 B.C. Unfortunately, he was never able
to complete his endeavor.
First, Thucydides separated the motives from the causes of the actual facts – shedding
light on all of the dimensions and purposes of human action. He had a critical, objective
ability that aided him to review the articles of the persons which played significant roles
in the war. In conclusion, an intense political opinion can be discerned in his books and has
been the subject of study by modern historians.